Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment

Frequently Asked Questions

Do students need to have prior knowledge of the subject to study the new specification GCE physics?

Students do not need to have reached a particular level of attainment before beginning to study this specification. The specification builds on knowledge, understanding and skills developed in both GCSE Double Award Science and GCSE Physics. The knowledge and understanding from GCSE Mathematics is also very relevant.

What are the weightings of AS and A2?



AS 1

40% of AS

16% of A level

AS 2

40% of AS

16% of A level

AS 3

20% of AS

8% of A level

A2 1


24% of A level

A2 2


24% of A level

A2 3


12% of A level

How is quality of written communication assessed?

The quality of written communication is assessed in A2 1 and A2 2 only.
QWC is assessed in questions where students respond in extended prose.

Can students re-sit units?

Yes. Students can re-sit each unit once.

Will there be synoptic assessment?

Yes, A2 units have synoptic questions.

How many externally assessed units are there?

All six units are assessed externally.

What are the main differences between this and the previous specification?

The examination papers are all slightly longer than before. There is a new way of assessing practical skills: AS 3A and A2 3A assess practical skills through experimental work in the laboratory (Part A).  There are now two new examinations. In AS 3B and A2 3B, students are assessed on their data handling and other skills in the Centre’s examination hall.

We have removed some of the old content. For example, students no longer have to study the cyclotron, the linear accelerator, MRI scanning and ultrasound scanning.

There is some new content such as Astronomy in AS 2.

Will the specification change again?

The last specification was for first teaching in 2011.  The newly revised specification is for first teaching in 2016. In general, the specification changes every five years or so.

Why did the specification have to change?

All specifications change regularly to ensure that they are up to date, relevant and appropriate.